In an effort to narrow the communication gap between students and administration, Student Senate has created the COVID-19 Community Council.
Students will now be able to receive more up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 cases, guidelines and protocols for quarantine and isolation.
“The council started off as a bullet point on a resolution,” said Victoria Drzymala, ‘23, chair of Senate’s Club Affairs Committee. “It was one of the things we asked the administrators to look into and was one of the only things that the administration said OK to, giving us the approval from Provost Nathan Urban.”
The COVID-19 Community Council, proposed fall 2020, was approved for the 2021 spring semester.
Drzymala said a major issue this year has been the lack of communication and transparency between the administration and relevant community members.
Declan Coster, ‘23, chair of Senate’s Student Outreach Committee, said it is important to bring concerns affecting certain groups to the administration and make sure the entire student body is well represented.
“It’s important to have groups being represented in a form like this so the impacts can be explained a lot faster than they could, getting it secondhand to the administrators,” Coster said.
Drzymala said students feel a constant disconnect between the student body and the administration when it comes to decision making.
“The (Gryphons) are constantly on the floor, they are constantly working here, they interact with the students more than anybody else and oftentimes they are one of the last people to find out about important information which is just not right,” Drzymala said. “It’s frustrating and demoralizing.”
The creation of the council is focused on gathering a team of individuals who come from different backgrounds and are involved in different activities on campus.
Drzymala said she put together a team of 20 Senate members who are working to establish a mission statement for the community council.
The community side of the council will include 17 members who are all associated with the university.
Drzymala said there will be four student senators, four graduate senators, two Gryphons, two athletes, two staff representatives and three Greek life representatives on the council.
The administrative side of the council is still being developed as the council is reaching out to possible members.
“We have a couple people interested in participating in the administrative side of the council that are on board with our ideas and are ready to hit the ground running,” Drzymala said.
Tygee Leach, ‘23, a member of Senate’s Athlete Constituency said they are working tirelessly towards making the Lehigh environment feel like a community where the voices of all students are heard.
“Most importantly they’re pushing to make campus a more inclusive community for everyone,” Leach said. “By doing this, it allows for more individuals to feel safe about voicing their concerns and feeling like something will be done about it.”
Both Coster and Drzymala hope the council will lead to a more effective spread of information.
“The Student Senate came up with this plan as a last ditch effort to bridge the communication gap,” Drzymala said. “We poured all of our resources and time into this council and we are really hoping that it is going to come up with some productive and solution orientated meetings that will leave us with doable action plans at the end so both sides feel fulfilled, respected, and heard.”